The NBA is just a bunch of overpaid, selfish, ball-hogging dunkers, right?
In South Philadelphia, the Sixers are quietly bucking the norm by using a team-oriented style to sprint out to a division-leading 9-3 start. Seven different players have led them in scoring already and seven players are averaging at least 10.0 points per game.
“It’s a big positive. You’re not pushed away in the backseat,” said forward Thaddeus Young.
“Everybody’s in the front seat, everybody’s on the driver’s side. That’s how we are. We’re a team.”
Not everyone would agree it’s a positive. Among 14 teams with winning records, only three (Sixers, Pacers, Spurs) don’t have a 17-point per game scorer. Lou Williams leads the Sixers at 16.1.
In the last 20 seasons, only two teams (2008 Celtics, 2004 Pistons) have won championships without a 20-point scorer. But that’s not the way the Sixers are built.
“This was a franchise that for about 10 years was star-driven. It was Allen Iverson,” said coach Doug Collins. “And people came in here to see this little guy play some amazing basketball. We now are trying to develop some stars along the way, some young stars that we can have for a long time.”
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This isn’t a system Collins brings with him everywhere he goes. When he had the likes of Michael Jordan, Jerry Stackhouse and Richard Hamilton in previous stops, he ran isolation sets. Now he runs a strict motion offense featuring multiple pick-and-rolls within every possession.
“I think it’s just based on personnel,” Collins said. “We know that for us to do that gives us a better chance to win.”
Collins has sold the entire organization on this team concept. There’s not a sniff of selfishness, jealousy or controversy over minutes and shots in the locker room.
“We share the ball,” said 13-year veteran Elton Brand. “Sometimes it’s Jodie’s night, sometimes it’s Dre’s night, sometimes Thaddeus. But all the time it’s us. We’re a team. That’s what’s going to take us far.”